After seeing the awesome trailer for Lights Out, I was very excited. Hearing that James Wan is connected to the project made me want to see it even more. So upon its release I headed to the cinema, sat in the dark and waited to jump out of my seat. Unfortunately, I’m still waiting.
Lights Out is about a supernatural being who lurks in the shadows and preys upon a family, forcing the estranged daughter to uncover their terrifying past.
Firstly, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all horror fans. Otherwise, why would you be reading this post on a horror website? And more to the point, why would I have written it? That said, I’m also pretty positive that we all love horror for different reasons. I grew up with horror; it is part of who I am and I will never leave it for another mistress. However, like many film genres, horror can make be pretty lazy… particularly when it comes to clichés. You’ll definitely have your own, and I’m sure you’ll find some more forgivable (maybe even lovable?) than the others. Here are the five horror clichés that I hate the most:
Avant-Macabre is a 6-minute black and white, silent(ish) horror film by John H Shelton. It features only a few characters, and its main content is voice-overs reading original poems. I have not watched many short horror films in my life (other than bingeing on BBC3’s The Fear), so did not know what to expect when asked to write a review for this film. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.
To get right to the point, I discovered why Asian horror is – at least in my opinion – the best in the world during my very first experience of an Asian horror film. I went to see A Tale of Two Sisters at the cinema with a couple of friends. It was one of those sought-after cinema experiences where there is barely anyone else in the screen and no one is eating smelly/noisy food…
I soon settled down into my seat and waited. And I was scared. I mean this film was creepy, unsettling and had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. I kept imagining a creature crawling through the darkness of the cinema screen and appearing beside my chair. Seeing this film really did open my mind to the wonder of Asian horror, and set me down a road of discovery.
I recently went to Horror Con UK 2016. This is my first time at any horror convention so I was really excited. Among the guests were the amazingly talented David Naughton (David Kessler from An American Werewolf in London), Doug Bradley (Pinhead from Hellraiser 1-8), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th 7 – 10) and Linnea Quigley (Trash from The Return of the Living Dead). I have never seen a horror actor in the flesh, most likely because I get a bit weird around famous people and become a bat-crap crazy fan girl around famous people whom I worship.
Arriving at the Magna Science Adventure Centre at 10.50am, it quickly became clear I should have opted for a priority ticket as there were a dozen cars driving aimlessly in circles trying to find a parking space. Eventually, I decided to park on a side road and was quickly followed by the other cars. It would have been nice to have signage to advise you what to do in an overflow situation or a parking attendant. Then we saw the big queue waiting to get inside. In the rain. I could see there were only two people at the front to scan tickets and give out wristbands. Luckily, one of the security staff had the bright idea to form a second queue to get people out of the rain. This kind of initiative should already have been thought about and executed.
However, once inside, I forgot about the painful exercise of trying to get into the building and focussed on checking out what was on offer. The first person I encountered was Twisty from American Horror Story: Freakshow who followed me around the room. Brilliant start to proceedings. I then headed to The Big Hall to check out the stalls. There was everything from paintings and drawings to brain cakes and bloody finger pens to figurines and signed merchandise, such as Freddy Krueger’s glove (already sold by the time I got there so my bank balance could breathe a sigh of relief).
At one side of the hall, the special guests already had a long queue of fans clutching puzzle boxes and Jason masks, ready for signing. Now, I realise that I am a complete idiot for not knowing this, but I queued up at the end of the day to meet David Naughton (he had the shortest queue at the time) and saw fans handing over money and this is when it dawned on me that you have to pay for their signatures. What does Homer Simpson say? Oh yeah, d’oh! Anyway, when I got to the front I apologised to David for not knowing this as I had no cash on me. He was very polite and we had a quick chat anyway. My boyfriend imparted a little wisdom about how York (where we live) supposedly has more pubs per square mile than anywhere else in the country – if you were at the Q&A you’ll know why we were talking to him about York.
The highlight of the day for me were the Q&As. I attended David’s, Kane’s and Doug’s. I even asked Kane a question (after a few pints for Dutch courage), which my boyfriend filmed so I can relive the moment over and over and over again. They were all relaxed, informative, friendly and funny. It was a delight to hear them talk about their careers, give us tid bits about the films they’ve worked on and the people they’ve worked with and allow us the opportunity to ask questions without any censorship.
I was particularly looking forward to the Scare-Play competition as I fancy taking part next year. I was disappointed to see a small audience turn out for this part. In future years, they should announce activities such as the Q&As and the competition to boost audience numbers – it is so easy to lose track of time. There were a vast number of different costumes for the competition and everyone had gone to great efforts, in particularly the voodoo man – he looked incredible. The competition was pretty badly run. Each contestant was called up rather than calling them up according to the category they had entered (best film character, best original character, etc.) The worst part was when the wrong person was called up for the best film character award. Very awkward.
At the end of the day I went back through the stalls to buy myself something to remember this great day. I came across a stall manned by ‘Uncanny Broderz’ who were selling some brilliant drawings of Freddy, Pinhead, etc. at only £3 a drawing. I was gobsmacked. And I had no money. I went to the front desk who were offering cashback only to be told they had sold out ages ago. Apparently, they “thought £7,000 would be enough”. Obviously not. I know, I should’ve brought cash with me. Fortunately, I bonded with the guys on the stall over my love of Freddy and gave me their card, telling me to get in touch.
Overall, I had a really great day, which was definitely helped by the cheap bar. I loved seeing so many people dressed up and enjoying all things horror. The convention had also hired people to walk around in costumes, including a brilliantly costumed Jason, a bloodied Michael Myers, a freaky scarecrow type guy with a big machete, giggling clown girls and zombies. I absolutely loved the atmosphere, the vast options of stalls selling merchandise, gooey treats, hosting tombolas and the sponsors, ‘Horrify me’, speaking to visitors about their photography packages. You could even get a tattoo. There did seem to be a missed opportunity on social media as lots of people were tweeting about/to Horror Con UK but nothing was coming from them, not even re-tweets. Event communications is essential to getting as much promotion as possible and to get conversations going. This, I think, needs to be looked at for next year.
I am definitely intending to go back. I heard that last year you entered into pitch blackness and were attacked by zombies so I am eager to see what horrific delights may be in store for visitors next year. And, if Horror Con UK organisers are reading this, if you can get Rob Zombie, Robert Englund, Bill Moseley and Tobin Bell as special guests, I’d really, really, really, REALLY appreciate it. Long live horror.
On a whim I have signed my boyfriend and me up to do Cancer Research’s Tough 10 challenge. Tough 10 is a brand new series of epic 10k runs. There are no obstacles but they take place on some of the UK’s toughest terrain. As we live in York, we’ve picked to do the course at Roundhay Park in Leeds. It’s lucky really as this is one of the easier routes. I’m not trying to shy away from a challenge but this is the first 10k event I’ve ever done; I don’t want to run before I can walk, so to speak.
For the past six years I’ve taken part in the 5k Race for Life. I usually do the York Racecourse one but, due to clashes with holidays, I have completed the course at Herrington Country Park in Sunderland twice. A much harder route, full of hills. I once did Pretty Muddy there as well, which was so much fun but ruins your trainers.
As I’ve roped my boyfriend into doing this with me, he is adamant that we will train for it. He is much fitter than me and can easily run this 10k course without stopping. I have the lungs of a 5-year-old so struggle running any distance without stopping.
We started our training on Wednesday. We’re currently dog/house sitting in Seaton Ross and are surrounded by off track routes and fields; a much better training ground than pavements and treadmills. We grabbed the younger dog, Mille, who sped off with her boundless energy and we followed. But I soon found myself stopping.
I really struggle with my breathing. I try to follow the mantra of breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. But I end up gasping for breath and getting a stitch. If I don’t get my breathing under control, I will never be much of a runner.
As a kid I was sport mad and took part in everything at school: cross country, athletics, netball, hockey, tennis, etc. To be honest I wasn’t brilliant at sports but I was keen, enthusiastic and I really tried. I was good at games like rounders and I was ace at netball. In my last sports day at secondary school I came second in high jump (my best event), beating one of the better girls. I took part in 1500m, 800m and cross country races but I never won. I never came close. I’ve never learnt how to control my breathing. Sometimes I‘d be gasping so hard I’d burst blood vessels in the back of my throat and end up spitting blood. What the hell, right?
Getting older I started dancing and found it easier to control my breath. Then I had knee surgery so avoided exercising for a while as I was scared I’d hurt myself again.
Now I’m back into fitness. I’m a gym member, going three to four times a week. I go to dance class and have started Pilates. And now I’m training for this 10k run. Dating a guy who’s into fitness helps me maintain my own fitness goals. We can keep each other motivated and push each other to be better. Today we’re both hobbling around with serious DOMs after gruelling leg and arm workouts.
I want to get better at running but I’ll never be a runner. Just like I’ll never be a dancer again. Getting old sucks. Not being sporty and able to do the things I used to do sucks. The trick is to find new loves and not getting stuck in a rut. I can still strut my stuff on the dance floor and I am becoming stronger than I have ever been thanks to my gym workouts. So that’s something I guess. My advice? Keep going.
This year, for the very first time, I am heading to FrightFest. And to say I am excited is a massive understatement. I know as a big horror fan it is sacrilege that I have never been before, but hopefully this will become an annual pilgrimage for me.
Buying a ticket was absolutely nerve-wracking. Watching my chosen seats disappear before my eyes is never easy. I actually ended up blind-clicking two seats, which luckily I managed to purchase. I actually managed to get seats in the Horror Channel screen, which have turned out to be spitting distance from some of my fellow London Horror Society writers. It will be great to finally meet you folk in person!
So, now the stress of buying tickets has gone, I can focus on the goodies this festival will bestow upon us. After studying the schedule diligently, here is my FrightFest preview, detailing the 5 films I’m most excited to see.